Find out which one of us once wrote an entire magazine about mashed potatoes and whose Roman Empire is the 2014 lifestyle YouTube era
Ahem. *Clears throat to begin the spiel we tell near daily to friends, family and anyone else who gives us even half a chance to speak*
The California Aggie is the official student-run newspaper of UC Davis and, at a university without a journalism major, is the best way for students to gain hands-on experience in written journalism. It also, alongside fellow student media groups KDVS radio and Aggie Studios, offers great opportunities to learn photo, video, design, layout and audio editing skills. We publish a weekly print newspaper on Thursdays and post articles on our website five days a week.
And that’s the cool part about The Aggie — none of us are majoring in journalism, because, well, we can’t, and some of us are even STEM majors. Many of the students at The Aggie don’t plan to pursue a journalism career post-graduation. And yet, in between studying for the MCAT or working in a lab, attending discussion sections and trying to cobble together some semblance of a social life, everyone here has decided it’s worth it. The late nights, the long meetings. We all think it’s worth it to dedicate time to learning about and informing the Davis community.
That’s especially true of the editorial board (that’s us!): the nine people who manage all of the written content produced by The Aggie and collaboratively produce two editorials each week in which we address topics and issues that we think are relevant to the Davis community in a thoughtful and nuanced way.
You’re going to be seeing a lot of us this year — so we thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce ourselves and share a little bit about how we ended up at The California Aggie.
Sonora Slater, Editor-in-Chief
It’s sappy senior time. I thought I had until at least the beginning of spring quarter before nostalgia hit me hard, but writing an introduction to my time at The Aggie and what it’s meant to me feels impossible without a little overdramatic reminiscing on the past three years.
I joined The Aggie as a volunteer copy editor in October of my freshman year, a.k.a as soon as I possibly could, after discovering a love for journalism in high school. Unfortunately, that was the fall of 2020, and we were all in our Zoom Era. But that didn’t stop me from reading every article that came through our shared Google Drive and starting to learn a little about the people, places and activities that make Davis what it is, even while my physical arrival in Davis had been delayed.
In the spring, I applied to be a writer on the science and technology desk, where, more than anything, I learned something new every single week. I also met editor Maddie Payne and fellow writer Brandon Nguyen, two of the kindest and smartest people I’ve met in my time at UC Davis. That trend only continued as I took on the role of campus news editor my junior year — through helping to cover graduation cancellations, a UC-wide strike, fatal stabbings in the city and, of course, the six-hour-journey that is a weekly ASUCD Senate meeting. The writers on my desk and the other members of the editorial board continuously surprised me with their hard work, kindness, nuanced perspectives and willingness to learn.
I know some of those aren’t traits commonly associated with the media industry, but trust me, something must be in the water at UC Davis because they are true of the people working for The Aggie. I am so excited for this year, and so grateful for all the people who make The Aggie what it is.
My Roman Empire: The California Aggie (it’s sad but true)
Clara Fischer, Managing Editor
As I sit down to write this introduction, I can’t help but feel a bit sentimental — as Sonora said, it may sound cliche, but your college years really do fly by. Like many of my fellow class of ‘24 students, my first year wasn’t exactly what I had expected it to be. In a year of uncertainty — uncertainty about the pandemic, uncertainty about whether or not I would like Davis, uncertainty about whether or not I could even survive living on my own — I made a promise to myself that no matter what, I would put myself out there and take advantage of anything and everything my new campus had to offer. So, with no previous journalism experience under my belt besides a love for “Sex and the City” and “Gilmore Girls,” I joined The Aggie during spring quarter of my freshman year, not knowing if I would stick with it. Spoiler alert: I stuck with it.
Now, as I head into my senior year, I’m feeling pretty grateful that The Aggie has been a major part of my college experience. I’ve learned everything from how to write a decent article the night before it’s due to how to plan a Couch Concert (Good luck, Ana!), but I have to say that I’ve learned the most from the people I’ve worked with. The Aggie employs some of the most driven, dedicated and passionate people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Everyone, from our volunteer writers to our EIC, somehow finds time in their jam-packed student schedules to deliver high-quality work. I’m beyond excited to work with all of them this year in my new role as managing editor, and I hope that their talent impresses you as much as it has me.
My Roman Empire: The 2014 lifestyle YouTube era
Lily Freeman, Campus News Editor
Walking into my interview to become a writer at The Aggie about a year ago, I would’ve considered myself lucky to be hired. Looking to contribute to the UC Davis culture, I applied with zero journalism experience, however, a profound love for writing and Rory Gilmore. I now believe in miracles as I write to you as an editor. I still remember the thrill and pride that I felt picking up the paper and flipping to my first-ever article, which covered the annual Arboretum Plant Sale. Ever since, pursuing a career in journalism has become more and more enticing. Writing for the campus news desk was special as it allowed me to chat with dozens of passionate students and organizations about their work on campus, to discuss various underlying social issues at school and to cover the drama of countless ASUCD Senate meetings.
Now, turning in my first article of the school year as the editor of the campus news desk, which coincidentally also covered the Arboretum Plant Sale, I am feeling the full-circle moment. From writing about bus stop updates to mental health conferences and projects towards combating climate change, I finally feel immersed in all things UC Davis. As an editor, I am excited to now give this feeling back to both Aggie writers and students across campus, and I am forever grateful to be doing so alongside this talented group of nine. Let me finally give a special thank you to the previous campus news editor Sonora Slater (who is now editor-in-chief, you go girl!). Sonora, thank you for bearing with my late night texts and teaching me everything I know.
My Roman Empire: Rihanna Super Bowl halftime show
Chris Ponce, City News Editor
As we stumble back into fall quarter, I am beginning my second year as city news editor. I have learned so much in a year’s time, from the difficulties of covering unexpected breaking news to the value of having a dedicated group of writers. I’m struggling to believe that I’m already a third-year — I didn’t realize that “the best four years of your life” would fly by so fast.
I’m beyond grateful that I have been with The Aggie for so long. I became a staff writer for the city news desk in the winter of my first year, and I fell in love with the desk. Working as an editor has allowed me to be more involved in The Aggie and also expand what the city news desk can do. Over the last year this desk has covered an array of important stories from city council elections to the work of activists in our community. None of this could be possible if it weren’t for my desk’s consistent writers who go above and beyond every issue. I’m so excited for what we will be able to do this year.
My Roman Empire: Stephen King Books
Annabel Marshall, Opinion Editor
Is it my- Oh, no you can go! Are you sure? Okay, haha. It’s me, Annie B, coming at you through print and/or online, putting the Op-Ed in the Opinion Editor. I joined The Aggie during my freshman year out of the fear that if I kept twiddling my thumbs they would fall off. Now, I’ve been granted enormous power over the coolest kids at the newspaper: cartoonists, humorists and column writers. Yipee! I’m thrilled to work with them, as well as the rest of the fantastic editorial team.
Becoming an opinion editor is karmic retribution for my three (!) years as a so-called humor writer, in which I wrote not a single joke but spent plenty of time torturing my editors by trying to sneak things into the newspaper that would get us sued. Thank you to those brave souls before me: Calvin, Eden and Owen, you live on in our hearts and also in real life, which I know because I am stalking you on LinkedIn. Sorry for continually and incessantly pitching a satire Instagram account for The Aggie, but good news! If you are reading this, you can follow The California Gaggie (@thecaliforniagaggie) and make a little 21-year-old girl’s dream come true.
My Roman Empire: Appalachia
Yasmeen O’Brien, Features Editor
There are essentially two things I’ve always known about myself: I love talking to people and I love writing. What better combination of these two passions than journalism? When I came to UC Davis as a freshman I was a biology major with dreams of becoming a doctor, or rather, dreams of dreaming of becoming a doctor. I had written for the school newspaper in high school, but thought of it as a hobby and nothing more. My freshman and sophomore years consisted of math, chemistry and biology, alongside tears, confusion and a nagging pit in my stomach; I was not in the right place. One day, seemingly out of the blue, I had a “eureka!” moment and realized that of course, it was writing. Since I was very young I had always expressed myself in the truest form through writing. I just never thought I could actually pursue it in a professional sense. After reconciling this truth within myself — and scheduling lots of calls with my advisor — I changed my major halfway into college to Anthropology and added a minor in Professional Writing.
I joined The Aggie last fall as an opinion columnist and thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. It gave me the freedom to write about anything I wanted: self-reflection, live music, murder-mystery, love, lying, my late grandmother, respecting indigenous land, travel, ‘70s music, meditation, learning to trust yourself, beautiful strangers. It was the perfect way to get back into writing. But taking journalism courses under the University Writing Program made me miss the thrill of interviewing sources and writing about current issues, and I decided it was time to shift. A feature article delivers news with a human angle, giving the reader a deeper connection to the story. The reporter is not just a reporter, but a storyteller. I am so grateful to be able to empower and support Aggie writers in telling these stories as the features editor this year — my fourth and final year at UC Davis. When I’m not working at The Aggie, I’m most likely in the sun with my wonderful friends, camping, dancing or playing music.
My Roman Empire: The John Muir Trail
Ana Bach, Arts & Culture Editor
Hard to try and top my fellow editors, but I’ll do my best to keep up with their instinctive wit and sensational banter. I will never quite forget when The Aggie’s previous managing editor Katie Debendetti asked me for book recommendations at the beginning of fall quarter last year. Instead of just sending her to my Goodreads list, I proceeded to talk her ear off about “Normal People” and my personal opinions on the show’s adaptation of the novel. After rambling on, she suggested that I write for The Aggie, specifically (you guessed it) the arts and culture desk!
As I look back on that moment, I realize it wasn’t that long ago that I was a baby in The Aggie community, trying to find a voice and sense of pride within my writing. Thanks to the community that stands before me as well as many others, I could not be more grateful for the position I now hold as well as the experience I have gained on the arts desk. The creativity from my writers who consistently bring new ideas to the table never ceases to amaze me. I hope readers can feel the enthusiasm in our writing and also find comfort in a space where many voices are shared. Hopefully it gives you the confidence to share yours too.
My Roman Empire: The Hunger Games (book and film adaptations)
Megan Joseph, Sports Editor
The first time I ever heard of The California Aggie was in April of 2022 on my college tour of UC Davis. I didn’t know anything about the school, what a bike circle was or that a recycling bin could have so many separators. When my family and I first got off the Russell Boulevard exit and parked we were already lost. We couldn’t find anything or where we were supposed to meet for the group tour. All we could find were these small and sometimes crazy-looking newspaper stands for The California Aggie. I just remember thinking, “Okay, these newspaper stands must be at all the ‘important places’ on campus. So, if we look up where all the stand locations are, then we will find where we need to go.”
Sure enough, it worked. We found where we were meeting the campus tour group and were only slightly late. Only at the last newspaper stand did I actually pick up a copy and read it. It mostly talked about campus and city events — but more importantly, it had an article about how a professor was doing an experiment on sheep and noted that the sheep would be around campus to watch and maybe even pet. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a part of The Aggie and come to UC Davis for my undergraduate education.
As my second year starts, I am so excited to be joining The Aggie team as the sports editor. I started writing for The Aggie last spring quarter and though it definitely kept me busy, I loved it. The whole team was so nice and I enjoyed being able to write about all the different sports on campus, whether it be club or Division I teams. There are definitely some big shoes to fill following all the brilliant sports editors before me, but I look forward to learning and working with all my writers and fellow editors this school year.
My Roman Empire: Any and all rom-com books
Katie Hellman, Science & Tech Editor
In sixth grade, I spent a whole hour coming up with a plan to be the creator/writer/editor/manager of a newspaper for my elementary school. I quickly realized that no one would trust an 11-year-old to be their only source of information, and I forgot all about my journalism pursuits. Save for developing one issue of a “magazine” (a few stapled pages) solely dedicated to mashed potatoes when I was in middle school, I hardly ever wrote for fun.
Fast forward to last year, my freshman year of college, and I decided to major in biology. I hadn’t yet joined any extracurricular activities and wanted to be a part of something that would allow me to combine my interests in both science and writing, so I applied to be a science desk writer for The Aggie. I’ve loved researching topics like innovative advancements in healthcare and pressing issues in zoology, in addition to being able to interview professors and medical professionals about their work. I’m very excited to be a desk editor this year and to continue reading and writing about new scientific developments happening in Davis and around the world.
My Roman Empire: Capybaras
Written by: The Editorial Board